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Question Number: 31970

Law 10 - Determining the Outcome of a Match 10/31/2017

RE: Rec Under 10

Peter of Stockton, CA USA asks...


Firstly thanks for all my questions that you have answered in the past.

Last Saturday I was a single referee doing a U10 game between the red and the white teams. The teams were evenly matched and it was a great game. The red team took the lead about half time.

So, right at the end of the game, white made a break as they came up to the penalty area my watch signaled (softly, ie no one heard it but me) that time was up. I decided to add in a few seconds so as to complete the play (there had been some injury time and so I felt good with this).

Now things got interesting - white took their shot at goal, the keeper stopped the ball either one the line or just over the line. I was just outside the penalty area and since there was no AR (single referee system) I took the longest couple of seconds to make my decision - to one team I would be an angel but to the other I would be a devil ;-). I decided that according to what I could see the ball made it all the way over the line. So a goal to white was declared and the game ended in a tie.

The head coach of the Red team was pleasant about the late goal but his assistant gave me some 'advice.' Part of his advice revolved around there was no way I could have 100% known that the ball crossed the line and so I should not have called it.

So, my question is should I have called a goal when I was not 100% certain that the ball went over the line but was of the opinion that it did?



Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Peter
No one will ever know including yourself if you were 100% correct. We have all been there on such decisions. I recall a few seasons ago an incident that sticks in my mind due to the unpleasant nature of the subsequent team reaction where a goalkeeper stopped a ball crossing the goal line for a corner kick in the last minute of a game. Like you I was on my own and it looked to me that the ball crossed the line with all the indicators so I gave it. Anyway I went with a corner and a goal was scored from the corner. The team berated me nastily for that decision because they knew that there is always an element of doubt in a tight line call.
Now there are times when we give what we believe is the correct decision. In my case the ball had hit the outside of a round goalpost with the goalkeeper using his left hand to scoop the ball inwards towards the FOP which is where the ball ended up on the ground. So it was certainly on the line when it hit the post and as it travelled with the GKs left hand actions I opine that it crossed the line which was a strong assumption. I suspect had it been a goal decision I would not have given it as that IMO is a very significant game decision and one would need to be 100% on it. In the past I have declined such decisions much to the chagrin of the attacking team to which I tell them that I am on my own and I need to be 100% correct. Less so on a throw in, corner kick, goal kick etc.
Here is an example
This may have looked over the line yet it was not given due to the uncertainty of such a call. Interestingly if it was given and proved wrong it would have been seen as a grave error. An AR would not be expected to get this call so the only decision was no goal unless the AR clearly saw the ball over the line.
So my advice is to not give those unless you are deep in the penalty area, well positioned to see the ball and goal line.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

'Sorry coach, that's the way I saw it.' He wasn't any closer than you were, and probably didn't have any better angle.

If he continues to gripe, you might shut him down by reminding him that the league can't afford or can't find enough referees to provide assistant refs, so he has to live with what is available. And in this case it's you.

There's been plenty of cases in high-profile games, going all the way up to the World Cup, where decisions on the ball over the line or not have been shown to be wrong. We can't afford full ref crews and video review (and sometimes even those aren't definitive) at U10 games, so there will always be human decisions being made, and some will inevitably be wrong.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Peter,
as a neutral official all your decisions could LOOK like 100% of YES I WILL blow the whistle or NO I will not blow the whistle. The idea is we do not like to create indecision in the minds of those playing that we are unsure of our decisions. In the goal issue< I tend to think you award the goal ONLY if 100% sure the ball completely crossed the goal line, under the crossbar and between the posts.

In such a case as you have described by allowing play to continue on for the attack I think it is a good idea for you follow the ball in on the shot and sell the fact you SAW it cross the line by running into the area to get that look as your whistle is blowing so it looks like you are right there making the call. An arm point from 25 yards away or more on a ball barely over if it is not easily determined has less conviction.

I recall a league championship match in crap weather. It was a very fun competitive match decided in PKs and with a lot of dramatic and interesting situations from INDFK inside the PA to clear PKs during regulation time just a very muddy field with the lines obscured, where the goal line was for all intents invisible as a muddy surface so when the ball hit the crossbar bounced down and was then caught by the keeper. I knew it was very close, my young AR was not in position to look across and when I communicated he shook his head and hunched his shoulders to say I do not know? The attacker was celebrating but instead of making an immediate decision I had a close look at the ball imprint in the ground where it had bounced I could tell that the outer curve of the ball was barely but slightly obscured by the posts thus the ball WAS NOT 100% inside the netted area I awarded no goal but dropped the ball to the keeper. I did receive some flack for just not allowing play to continue but I thought the muddy conditions were unfair given the goal line was eradicated between posts. I had three very close rolling balls caught right on the goal line including one that the keeper had a hand on but the attacker slide into and pushed it into the goal for which I awarded an INDFK out as no actual contact with the keeper but all three were partially inside the goal and a very good call by my AR on one that I could see him bending down trying hard to get that sight line along the goal line to where he ran inside the field to get closer then backed away shaking his head! Given the conditions both teams gave us thumbs up for being so diligent in our efforts. No one is perfect, in the end the EFFORT to do your job is what teams appreciate as they can see by your actions your care and concern even if they might disagree with the occasional call. .

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Peter,
A goal is the most important single match-changing event in a game so I would say that you do need to be sure before you decide that a goal has been scored. As a referee you always have to make decisions to the best of your ability and so if you're absolutely sure that the ball was completely over the line, you should give the goal but if you're not sure, probably better not to give it.

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